failure to thrive

The definitions used in this glossary of terminology either have been provided by the authors of the articles, or have been extracted wholly or in part, or paraphrased from the following sources: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Charles B. Clayman, MD, Medical Editor, Random House, New York, 1989; Biotechnology from A to Z, 2d Edition, William Bains, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; A Dictionary of Genetics, 6th Edition, Robert C. King and William D. Stansfield, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 29th and 30th Editions, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 2000, 2003; Genes VII, Benjamin Lewin, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2000; The Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, Volumes I and II, Stacey L. Blachford, Ed., Thomson Learning, New York, New York, 2002; The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 1997; Molecular Biology of the Cell, 3rd Edition, Bruce Alberts, et al., Garland Publishing, 1994; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition, 1966; Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991.

DEFINITION:

failure to thrive
Lack of expected growth in an infant, usually assessed by comparing the rate at which a baby gains weight with a standardized growth chart. Babies who fail to thrive are not growing enough in relation to birth weight.The undernourishment may be due to some problem at home, often an unsatisfactory relationship between parent and child. In some cases, the child is actually neglected. Deprived children often have delayed emotional and intellectual development as well as failure to thrive.


If a baby fails to gain weight despite receiving an adequate diet and having a stable family background, other conditions may be responsible. Failure to thrive can indicate a serious problem, such as congenital heart disease, renal failure, or malabsorption.


A baby who fails to thrive is often observed (along with a parent) for a week or two to see how the parent feeds and handles the baby. The baby's diet and weight are carefully monitored. If there are social problems, support for the family can be initiated.